One of the staples of the upcoming baseball season is picking your season long bets. Player Prop bets are fun like who will win MVP, CY Young, Rookie of the Year or who will have the most home runs, RBI’s etc. They are very hard to predict and that is why the pay outs are huge on them. For example, Yoenis Cespedes is +3300 to lead the league in home runs this season. What that means for the non degenerates out there is that if you bet $100 you would win $3,300 if Cespedes does indeed lead the league in home runs (We are Hoping). Looks tempting, but generally a sucker bet. What is much more winnable is betting on the season win totals for the individual teams. How it works is each MLB team is given a win total for the season and you can either bet that they will win more games or fewer games than the number.
If you are familiar with Mike Francessa of WFAN radio in New York every sports season he picks his over/under team win totals. He generally picks 5 or 6 teams and it was great radio when he and Chris “Maddog” Russo would go head to head. Mike Francessa is a sports radio legend and his work on WFAN is still in my opinion the best pure sports talk show that has ever existed. I grew up with Mike and will be sad to see him leave WFAN at the end of 2017. However, Mike is still on for now and he did his picks today on the radio for this upcoming MLB season.
I figure this is my last chance to try so here is my idea for Mike. I would like to challenge his picks with 5 different ones of my own. Since nothing is fun without some action and more importantly why would Mike care about this without something to gain ? Answer is, he wouldn’t, so here is my proposal. If Mike Picks more winners than me I will donate $1,000 to a charity of his choice. If I pick more winners all I want is to be able to call in to his show and plug Wing Span Sports with him. Let see if we can make this happen but either way here are Mike’s picks followed by mine.
MIKE FRANCESSA MLB OVER/UNDERS
Cleveland Indians OVER 92.5
San Francisco Giants OVER 88.5
Toronto Blue Jays OVER 85.5
Chicago White Sox UNDER 69.5
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim UNDER 79.5
WING SPAN SPORTS MLB OVER/UNDERS
Los Angeles Dodgers- 93.5 Wins
The Pick= UNDER
The Dodgers are the sexy pick this season to not only win the NL West but to win the World Series. I do not see either happening honestly and if they do win the NL West I do not see them running away with it which would have to happen for them to get to 94 wins. The Dodgers have won 90 plus games in the last 4 seasons with their high total being 94 wins during that span. I do not see this Dodger team being as strong as some of those other teams and they defiantly are not as deep. Depth is key to putting up gaudy win totals because every team is going to have guys get injured so you must have guys ready to fill in when someone goes down. Corey Seager is a great young player but I could see him struggling a little more often this season as the pitchers adjust to him. The rest of the lineup to me looks thin and has some age to it. The team has no speed and really not that much reliable power so they will have to rely on stringing hits together and that can be problematic when talking about trying to get your win total into the mid 90’s. The real problem for the Dodgers is yes they have Kershaw, but 2-5 in their rotation does not strike fear into my heart. Julio Urias to me would have to pitch like a number 2 for this team to get to 94 wins and I do not see that happening yet as he did not even make the opening day roster. The Dodgers will be in it and may even win the NL West but I see a competitive division with the winner being in the low 90’s.
Texas Rangers- 85.5 wins
The Pick= OVER
The Rangers have a great offense and very nice 1-2 punch at the top of their starting rotation with Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels. They also have a bunch of power arms in the pen that should be able to get the job done. What I love about the Rangers is they have a great mix of young talent and steady veterans. Adrian Beltre does not age and should put up another big season. Adding Mike Napoli back into the lineup is a nice addition and obviously a full season with Jonathan Lucroy will only help. Also having Sin-Soo Choo back setting the table after an injury plagued 2016 should also help the lineup. Their young guys Odor, Mazara, and hopefully a healthy Jurickson Profar all have all-star ability and will make this lineup lethal. If they get something out of Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross to go along with Darvish, Hamels, and Perez at the top of the rotation they can challenge for the AL Crown.
New York Mets- 88.5 wins
The Pick= OVER
Did you really think I would not pick the Mets and the over ? Of course I am a fan and maybe even bias at times but this season I see no way the Mets do not win 90 plus games. I have 2 overlooked reason for this so I am going to skip over the obvious here. Everyone knows the Mets have elite pitching and a powerful lineup when intact. They need to stay healthy and again that is obvious because every team has to have their best players stay healthy to put up big win totals. So let me give you the 2 overlooked reason we should not be handing the Nationals the NL East just yet.
Without using names what would you say if I told you your favorite team was going to have these guys starting for you this season. Player A) Slashed 333/345/476 when he was called up and has a career 324 batting average in the minors. Player B) Hit 16 Home Runs and drove in 48 runs in 301 at bats last season. Player C) First 478 Major League At bats has 35 doubles 21 home runs and 68 RBI’s. Player D) Has not hit much yet but has a Gold Glove to his name. You would probably feel pretty decent, I know I would. The great thing for the Mets is these players make up their bench. T.J Riveria, Wilmer Flores, Michael Conforto, and Juan Lagares (When he’s healthy). The Mets have the best depth I think they have ever had and what this does is puts pressure on guys who are starting to perform which is good, and gives Terry Collins options and the ability to put each guy on the roster in the best spots to succeed. The Cubs have mastered this and versatility and depth is the hottest trend in baseball and the Mets have it.
We all know about athletes and contract years in every sport and what it generally means. They tend to perform at high levels with the impending pay-day coming in the offseason. Look at this Mets team, basically the entire team is in a walk year so motivation will not be lacking to get the job done. Jay Bruce, Curtis Grandson, Neil Walker, Jose Reyes, Rene Rivera, Lucas Duda, Asdrubal Cabrera (Team Option), Addison Reed, and Fernando Salas are all heading to free agency at the end of the year. Throw in Travis D’Arnaud who will be gone if he does not step up and probably will not get another chance to start in his MLB career. Then you have Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler who really need to show everyone they still got it if they ever plan on a big pay-day. Bottom line is basically the entire team including Terry Collins has big financial incentives riding on this season and that should only help things.
Chicago White Sox- 69.5 Wins
The Pick= OVER
This is an interesting pick because Mike Francessa picked the White Sox to go under and I think the opposite. I like the White Sox trades as they added a surplus of young talent but more importantly for this bet they added guys who are close to Major League ready in Moncada, Lopez, and Giolito. They have a nice young core they have built and I think they will play pretty well for stretches this year and that is all you need to crack 70 wins. They have some pop in the middle of the order with Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier and when Moncada comes up which should be soon they will have a pretty formidable 1-5 with freshly signed Tim Anderson and Melky setting the table. I hope Carlos Rodon can get over his bicep issue and come back early in the season because I think he can be a dominate starter once he figures it out. Jose Quintana leads the staff and will be good but he is a trade candidate so I am hoping while he is here he pitches lights out which he is more than capable of. James Shields might be done but at least he will eat innings and Miguel Gonzalez is a proven pro whose career numbers of 44-41 W/L with a 3.80 era are very respectable. Overall this pitching staff has some high upside if the young guys can develop led by Rodon, Lopez, and Giolito. They also have an established back-end of the bullpen with Nate Jones and David Robertson and that is more than a lot of teams have. In the theme of young guys developing the new White Sox manager is Rick Renteria who was the Cubs Manager before Joe Maddon was hired. Renteria is known to work well with young players so this could be a good fit. They probably are looking to trade a few more pieces but I really like the young talent and I am betting on that fact.
Tampa Bay Rays- 78.5 Wins
The Pick= UNDER
The Rays won 68 games last year and Evan Longoria had his best season in a long time and Logan Forsythe continue to emerge as one of the games better second baseman. Forsythe was a 5 and 3.3 WAR player the last 2 years for the Rays. Forsythe is now gone to the Dodgers and Longoria is a year older and upset his buddy Forsythe was traded. The Rays lineup has some power but not enough to over come the fact only 1 guy in the starting lineup is projected to hit better than 250. They also do not have much speed so offensively this team will struggle and I think struggle badly. Their pitching staff is led by Chris Archer who had a down year last season and is looking to rebound. I think he can but will be hard pressed to find wins with this lineup backing him. They traded Matt Moore mid-season to Giants who would be their number 2 starter and will now rely on their young arms. The problem is I do not love their young guys and think they are overrated personally. The Rays have some prospects in the system but probably will be reluctant to start their MLB service time. I can see them trading guys like Archer, Colome, Miller, Souza, and maybe even Longoria. Wilson Ramos would have helped but he is already guaranteed to miss the first 2 months of the season as he recovers from a torn ACL. I think at this point once he comes back and proves to be healthy he will be immediately traded. At the end of the day the Rays are in a tough division, have below average talent, will be looking to shed whatever talent they do have, and do not have much help on the way for this season at least. I expect another sub 70 win campaign in Tampa Bay.